Union Square Park is the juncture of four Manhattan neighborhoods: the Flatiron District and Gramercy to the north; the East and West Villages to the south. Technically comprised of only the park, Union Square as a neighborhood has culturally and conversationally expanded to a 3-block radius surrounding the park. In the last decade, the park and the corresponding metaphysical neighborhood have undergone major redevelopment.
Union Square has redefined itself into one of the hottest downtown real estate markets. Greenmarket Farmer's Market is destination for organic foods from all across town.
Union Square’s name derives from the fact that it marks the place where, in the early 1800s, Broadway and 4th Avenue (then called Bowery Road) converged, as well as numerous trolley lines. Today, the boundaries of the park itself are 17th Street to the north, 14th to the south, and Union Square West and Union Square East, on their respective sides. Formerly a potter’s field, the state legislature turned it into a public commons in 1815. By 1832, Samuel Ruggles, famous as being the man who developed Gramercy Park, enlarged the space and began to develop it into something resembling what it is today.
Some of its most famous landmarks include Metronome, a huge digital clock sculpture built on one of the walls of One Union Square South, and a number of statues scattered throughout the park, including the James Fountain and statues of George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette, Abraham Lincoln, and Mahatma Gandhi, intended as a symbol of the park’s long involvement in social activism). This activism goes all the way back to the 1800s. A political rally was held there shortly after Fort Sumter fell in 1861. The park hosted a Labor Day celebration, at which 10,000 or more workers demonstrated. Due to a large number of union rallies, many people came to mistakenly believe that that is where the park got its name. Union Square itself was, in fact, dubbed a National Historic Landmark due to this history.
Union Square is famous for its aforementioned Greenmarket Farmer’s Market, which runs year-round, on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and features thousands of fruits, vegetables, and other assorted organic farm products. During the holiday season, Union Square also holds the Union Square Holiday Market, where over 100 kiosks are stuffed with holiday items to purchase.
Restaurants and bars in the park’s immediate vicinity include Republic, Heartland Brewery, Union Square Café, Sidebar, Souen, Chipotle, Maoz, known for its fantastic falafel, Old Town Bar & Restaurant, Pierre Loti Wine Bar, and Cibar. To host elegant parties, look no further than the classy and opulent Union Square Ballroom.
People pursuing other forms of entertainment can take in a movie at the large multiplex at Union Square Regal Theater or a show at Union Square Theater. The area also features a great deal of shopping, including a four-floor Barnes & Noble and a similarly large Whole Foods. Nearby, one can also find what may be the largest used bookstore in the world, the world-famous Strand, and Forbidden Planet, a comic and hobby chain from the UK that has its only US location right by Union Square. Museums include the Jewish Institute of Religion Museum and Tibet House.
Local hotels include the New York Union Square Hotel and the Union Square Inn.
The Union Square subway station offers service on the green line (the 4, 5, and 6 trains), and the yellow line (N, Q, R, W), as well as the L line.